Tayberry Chocolate Cake with Fresh Cut Roses

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The second part of the weekend resided in celebrating my roommates birthday. Since her birthday was on a weekday we celebrated on Sunday. We went to Newport and rented bikes to cruise down the coast in a gorgeous 84 degree weather. The sun was shining but the coastal wind was blowing gentle enough for it to be soothing.

IMG_8897 We laid out a picnic on the beach for our dinner. Buffalo Wild Wings, veggie sticks, fruit cubes, and pico de gallo.

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One of my favorite things to do is to look out into the ocean and be reminded of how small I am and wonder why I don’t go as often as I should. As we ate, we watched as the sun slowly set while listening to Jon Thurlow, Bethel, and Shane and Shane.

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When the actual birthday date arrived, I thought of making the chocolate cake with tayberry jam. I made the same cake in the form of the Hydrangea Cake but this time, decided to use real roses to go on top.

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The chocolate cake is the same one I’ve used for many different occasions. In addition to the Hydrangea cake, I’ve used it as the Chocolaty Chocolate Sprinkles Cake, S’mores Cake, and the Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Roses.

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To begin the decoration, I used my swiss meringue buttercream, the same one I used for the Hydrangea cake. I frosted the outside until no crumbs were visible through the outside of the cake.

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To start the assembly, I cut the roses short, leaving only about a one to two inch stem. Arrange it in a circle around the boarder of the cake. If there are some petals that aren’t in the best shape, simply pluck it out.

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Once you have the first layer going, lay on the second! To help the roses stick in place, I recommend putting a blog of buttercream in the middle after the first layer is done. That way, it will hold down the first layer and you can stick the stems directly into the buttercream for the second layer.

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Once the second layer was finished, I was only able to fit three more roses to complete the cake. I hid a couple rose leaves into the bundle to add some dimension.

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The roses are SO PRETTY!!!

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Happy happy 21st birthday to my sister Eunice. You are such a beautiful woman of Christ, both inside and out. I thank God for placing you in my life so I may strive for a stronger relationship with Him! Happy birthday!! <3

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Chocolate Cake

recipe from Ina Garten, Food Network

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

2 cups sugar

3/4 cups good cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk, shaken

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

recipe from Global Sugar Art

1 c egg whites (about 6-7 eggs)

2 c sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 c unsalted butter (soft but still cool)

1 and 1/2 c Crisco

2 and 2/3 c sifted powdered sugar

gel coloring

Combine fresh egg whites, sugar and vanilla in mixing bowl. Mix over a double broiler with a whisk until mixture reaches 140-160 degrees Farenheit (60-71 degrees Celsius). Place bowl on mixer with whip attachment and beat until stiff peaks form and cooled.

Slowly add pieces of butter, followed by shortening. The mixture will fall apart and look curdled, like cottage cheese. This is EXPECTED and just continue beating and the buttercream will come back together. Stop mixer and add the sifted powdered sugar and beat with whip again for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Use the gel coloring to color until you have reached the desired color. Keep unused icing refrigerated 2 weeks or freeze.

Pie Day Wedding

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This weekend has been an absolute blur!! On Saturday, I made 16 pies for a friend’s wedding. The wedding was also on Pi day and so naturally, they had pie at the reception! I’ve previously created the Earl Grey Pie just for this wedding. We also served a larger version of the Raspberry Nutella Tarts, Apple Pie, and my all time favorite Chocolate Pudding Pie. If you click on the name it will take you directly to each recipe!

But let me tell you something…making 16 pies are no joke and no easy task. To make sure I had enough of each ingredient, I had calculate the total measurements of each ingredient per pie times four, add each ingredient to other pies, and buy it all in bulk in order for it to be cost efficient. Just to list off a few, I ended up needing 29 cups of flour, 12 cups of butter, 10 cups of chocolate chips, 18 cups of whole milk, and about 120 oz of fresh raspberries. Inanity.

I began to make the pies on Thursday. I created a timetable of items that could be made in advance and items that had to be made as close to the wedding date as possible.

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After days of cutting in butter, chilling, rolling, and crumbling graham cracker crumbs, all the shells crusts were FINALLY DONE.

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I made four of each kind of pie, which totaled 16. I unfortunately forgot to get a shot of the apple pie.

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Once we were able to get the pies safety to the wedding, I was finally able to breath a sigh of relief. The rest of the day was absolutely beautiful. I loved how the wedding venue was effortlessly serene. The bride looked picture perfect next to her groom. A part I love about weddings is that they bring families and friends all together for such a joyous occasion. It was so great seeing old friends again and being able to put all worries aside and just celebrate! Cheers to Bryce+Grace, wishing you both the very best!

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Earl Grey Pie

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Earl Grey Pie say whaaaaat?! I was so excited when I began to formulate on how to make this pie. I have a friend’s wedding coming up on Saturday and I was asked to make pies for the reception as the wedding is on March 14, 3/14, 3.14 aka PI DAY or PIE DAY :)

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One kind of pie that was requested was an Earl Grey Pie. Even though I never made it before, I’ve been to Pie Hole and tried their Earl Grey. It was absolutely amazing and each component worked so well together. It starts off with a flaky pie crust, then a layer of chocolate ganache. Once that has set, the earl grey pastry cream is added and topped off with whipping cream and pistachios. It is a little bit high maintenance in that there are so many different layers going on, but the result is to die for.

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I searched the internet but couldn’t find a decent recipe for earl grey pie or earl grey custard, and so I decided to adapt my own traditional vanilla custard pastry cream into an earl grey pastry cream. I’ve seen it done before when I worked at Beard Papa’s Cream Puff Bakery. We had an “Earl Grey” custard flavor of the week and I just knew it could be done. The only difference between this earl grey and the vanilla is that you steep the milk with the tea bags as opposed to vanilla. All the components, each layer of the pie, is inspired and credited to Pie Holes. I just put several of my own components together to create the absolute best pie I have ever made and you will ever taste.

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As of right now, I do not have any “how to” step by step photos for this pie as it was the first time I made it but will for sure be adding photos in the future!

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Update: For a Step by Step photo tutorial, see my post on Earl Grey Pastry Cream!

Earl Grey Pie

recipe inspired by Pie Hole, Los Angeles & Pasadena

Flaky Pie Crust

recipe from Tartine Bakery

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 c very cold water (I placed in freezer for 5-10 min)

1 1/2 c + 1 Tbsp flour

1/2 c + 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

Dissolve salt in water and keep refrigerated until needed. In a food processor, pulse the butter and flour until it forms large crumbs. Slowly add in water while pulsing, until it loosely holds together. Roll it together so that it holds, wrap in sarane wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When completely chilled, roll out to be 1/8 in thick and cover the pie tins. Use the back of a knife to cut off any excess dough. Use a knife to prick the bottom of the crust. Line the tops with parchment paper and weigh it down with baking weights (beans, rice, etc). Bake for 20-25 min, until golden brown around the sides. Remove the parchment paper and bake for 5 more min, until all moisture has evaporated from the crust. Allow the crust to cool completely on a wire rack.

Earl Grey Pastry Cream

adapted from Tartine Bakery’s Pastry Cream

2 cups milk

5 bags Earl Grey Tea Bags (I use Twinings Earl Grey)

1/4 tsp salt

5 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 c sugar

2 eggs

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 c heavy whipping cream

2 Tbsp sugar

Heat the milk, tea bags, and salt in a sauce pan on low for 5-10 minutes, constantly stirring until the color turns a medium-light grey color. If some tea leaves fall out, it is okay, you will strain it out later. Once it has reached the desired color, remove tea bags and bring the milk to a gentle boil. Take it off the heat and strain the milk into a separate bowl to remove any bits of burt milk or tea leaves. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, sugar, and eggs in a medium bowl until thick and smooth. Add half of the boiling milk into the sugar mixture to temper the eggs, then return this mixture into the saucepan along with the rest of the milk. Whisk continuously on medium high heat until the cornstarch cooks and the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and add butter and whisk until smooth and completely incorporated. Pour into a heatproof bowl and place plastic wrap on the surface of the cream to cool to avoid the creation of a “skin” layer. Allow to cool completely before using, about 3-4 hours. The cooled earl grey pastry cream should be very firm, needing to be lightened with whipped cream before using.

Once ready to use, whip up the whipping cream with remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar until thick. Scoop out the pastry cream and whisk in the whipping cream until completely smooth.

Assembly

1 fully cooled pie shell

1/2 c chocolate chips

1/4 c heavy whipping cream

Earl Grey Pastry Cream

1/2 c ready to whip whipping cream (I recommend Pastry Pride)

Small handful pistachios, roughly chopped

Heat up the heavy whipping cream in a heatproof bowl until it is bubbly. Add in chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush the chocolate onto the pie shell and allow it to cool completely.

Whip up the ready to whip whipping cream until it holds a stiff peak. Meanwhile, take the earl grey pastry cream and fill the pie. Smooth out the top. Take the stiff peak ready to whip whipping cream and spoon onto the top and spread it out. Decorate with pistachios. Serve cold.

Pots de Creme

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I have saved the best for last. POTS DE CREME!!

Why is it the best? Well, besides it being rich and decadent and superb, I’ll give you five reasons on why you should make this, if not tonight, then for tomorrow night.

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First, it’s easy. Like, super SUPER easy. I think it’s the easiest thing I’ve made in the existence of…ever. Even easier than chocolate covered strawberries. WAY easier than that.

Second, you only have to use one blender. No muss, no fuss. Clean up is a snap.

Speaking of clean up being a snap, third: it’s fast. From start to finish, it only took me ten minutes. This includes getting out the ingredients and blender, pulverizing the chocolate, pouring the mixture into jars, cleaning out our refrigerator to make room for the jars, and washing the dish (notice the singular, only one thing to wash).

Fourth, it only uses five ingredients, all of which you would probably already have in your pantry.

Fifth, even though the dessert is fancy yet simple, it even sounds fancy since it’s in French. The pots de creme essentially means pots of cream in french and it’s pronounced “poh deh crehm” with an elegant soft “h” to end each word. Fancy eh?

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I made these as small valentines day treats for my sisters here at school. I’ve seen a bunch of recipes that used mason jars with mousse or pudding inside and when I saw these mini mason jars, I knew they were meant to be (cheesy I know please forgive me).

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After washing and air drying the jars, I wanted to put little hearts on them. The only thing is  the labels that came in the box with the jars were far to big and covered nearly half of the jar itself. So I tried using a sharpie to draw on the heart. It was almost see through. And so just as I was about to give up, I thought of painting it on, and thought of using nail polish! It worked perfectly and only required two strokes to make a heart! I set them out for a few minutes to dry and began making the pots de creme.

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So because it does not take many steps except blending, pouring in the coffee, and blending until it is smooth, I kinda forgot to take pictures of it. But two minutes later, you have this gorgeously rich and smooth chocolate and coffee mixture you have to resist drinking. I filled the mini mason jars with the mixture about 1/2 to 2/3 full. You want to leave enough room for the whipped cream! One batch of the pots de creme was perfectly enough for the twelve mason jars.

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Set them all onto a tray and refrigerate for several hours. I let mine set overnight.

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The next morning, I made the fresh whipping cream mixed with a little added sugar. I spooned it into a piping bag with a Wilton 2D closed start tip and piped swirls of whipping cream into each jar, going a little bit higher than the height of the jar. When you put the lid on, it will press down on the cream and allow it to spread out to the sides of the jar.

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Dust with cocoa powder.

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Screw place the lids on and screw tight. I tied each jar with a bit of twine and placed them back in the refrigerator to firm up again. I found that these melt quite easily so make sure you keep them as cold as possible! Happy Valentines Day!!

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Pots de Creme

recipe from Ree Drummond, Food Network

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

8 ounces (1 cup) very hot strong coffee

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

Crack the eggs into the blender and dump the chocolate chips on top. Add the vanilla and the salt. Pulse 5 to 7 times, or until the chocolate chips are partially pulverized.

Turn on the blender, then pour in the very hot coffee through the hole in the top in a steady stream. The coffee will melt the chocolate and turn it into a smooth mixture.

Pour the mixture into small mason jars. Place the jars on a tray and refrigerate them for 2 to 3 hours, or until firm.

Whip the cream with the sugar and plop it onto the top of each glass.

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Berry Galette

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It is day two and I am making mini galettes!!

I previously made an apple cinnamon galette and fell in love with the simplicity of the crust. It comes out flaky and crispy while holding onto the flavor a real good crust should.

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For this week, I made mini ones thinking they would be able to bake faster and therefore, I could eat them sooner. Well, while the dough took less time to chill, the baking time was still an agonizing wait.

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Red Velvet Whoopie Pie

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I am SO excited for this week!! Want to know why? Well, even if you don’t I’m going to tell you anyways. No, it’s not because it’s Valentines Day on Saturday. I think that it’s a Hallmark created holiday in which some people use as the only time to express love and gratitude for one another. But that’s another story. It’s because when you go grocery shopping, you see strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, chocolate, all sorts of items that I usually buy for baking, on sale!! Ok fine maybe the sale has something to do with the fact that Valentines day is on Saturday, but let’s just ignore that.

Because Valentines day is happening whether I like it or not, I have lined up some of my favorite recipes for this week. Every now and then I remember that I am a student, so we’ll just see how many recipes I am able to get to. I’ll also be making these recipes as how-to, step-by-step tutorials with photos and details so if you wanted to make them in your own kitchen, you would be able to follow along!

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Starting off the week are my all time crowd favorite, red velvet whoopie pies. These are perfect to make and share with your friends or family. I remember in high school I made these almost every other week and brought them to school to share with friends. And every time, they disappeared almost as quickly as I brought them out. Over the years I have forgotten where this recipe is from but have developed some tricks to ensure that each and every batch comes out exceptionally fluffy and full of flavor. For this batch, I cut the recipe in half because, well, the more I make, the more I eat. That being said, the quantities shown is less than what you would have.

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Chocolatey Chocolate Sprinkles Cake

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I have probably made this cake 10 times already. It is my absolute favorite. The ingredients are everything I already have in my pantry, the flavor of chocolate is decadently rich, and the clean up is a snap. Oh, and it is also by Ina Garten whom I love, but you maybe already know that.

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This chocolate cake was made for a family who had just welcomed a new baby. There is something so beautiful about a new life coming into this world. SOMEHOW, we as humans have been given the responsibility and the privilege to care for another human being. To care for another life more than your very own, to raise them up in this kind of world we live in today, and to be a good role model for them to strive after. Children are gifts and blessings and even though I have yet to get married and start my own family, I have been honored to be reminded of the blessings of a new life. Congratulations Ja family, and welcome to the world Elyssa!

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Chocolate Cake

recipe from Ina Garten, Food Network

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

2 cups sugar

3/4 cups good cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk, shaken

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Chocolate Buttercream:

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Buttercream will be very soft.

To assemble:

Take one cake layer and place on cake pedestal with parchment paper strip lining the edges of the cake to catch any frosting spilling. Spread a thin layer of buttercream around until covered, then place the second cake layer on top. Taking most of the buttercream, (leave about 3/4 c in the bowl,) spread the buttercream all over the cake with an offset spatula until completely covered. It is easiest to start with all of the buttercream at the top then work your way down to the base of the cake. Once the entire cake is covered, remove the parchment strips. Using chocolate sprinkles (or any other you want), cover the entire top of the cake, leaving a 1 cm boarder. Take the reserved 3/4 c of remaining buttercream and place it in a piping bag fitted with whichever tip you would like (I used a Wilton 21). Pipe around the base and the top boarder.